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I love the Olympics, and the opening ceremony is always the best part.

London put on a great show, a really awesome event, capped by a torch-lighting that made a powerful moment even more meaningful. The British blood in me is proud tonight.

But more than that, the thing that always gets me, the thing that brings a tear to my eye, it's this gathering, this parade of nations, this global party. The whole world is in one place, gathered together, for a common goal, one peaceful celebration -- America and Iran, Sudan and Korea, France and Iraq, Tuvalu and Kiribati and Andorra and the Maldives, everybody, whether you hate each other usually or not, whether you have much money, or the rest of the world can even name what continent you're on, or are even good at sports, really, or not.

This is everyone's goal, the global pipe dream, the impossible, made possible: It's world peace. It's incredible, just awe-inspiring. And it gives you hope, a little. If we can achieve world peace, even just in a microcosm, in one city... maybe it could happen more than every few years, in more than one place, someday, just maybe.

Five years

Jun. 21st, 2012 11:33 pm
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
This day, five years ago, was one of the worst days of my life.

It's hard to believe that I'm the same person, really, hard to believe that I went from that situation to this one, hard to believe that one life can change so much. (And yet most of us didn't go to our five-year reunions, 'cause not much ever happens in just five years. I guess it makes a really big difference which five years.)

Five years ago tonight, I was sitting on Deb and Eric's couch, crying. (I'll always be grateful for that, by the way, Deb and Eric, grateful for how you were there for me that day.) Five years ago today, I was falling apart.

I still remember that day very well. It started with a shopping trip: I thought I'd go find myself a ring, maybe a topaz, something pretty, something just for me, and something to go on the finger that had held a diamond the day before. I was struggling to hold myself together even then, trying to be strong, looking to get myself something to keep me centered, something to focus on when I needed to collect myself together again. But I never made it into the store. I got as far as the parking lot before the phone rang.

The last ring that had rested on that finger, the one that stayed there only seven weeks, had a flaw in it; I didn't notice it until the day after it was purchased. It was a little bit of charcoal inside the diamond, an inclusion, an impurity that I could see if I knew where to look, which I soon did. At the time, it didn't bother me, 'cause I saw it as, I don't know, almost a sign that it was real, 'cause real things have flaws. It was like the relationship it symbolized, I suppose -- nice on the surface, but very much flawed if you really looked at it closely.

Five years later, there's another diamond on that finger, this one accompanied by a few little friends. This one's pure and clear and sparkling, like the sentiment that led to its purchase. It was bought and given out of love, out of a true desire to win my hand in marriage, with a clear head and a sense of real commitment. And I'll wear it for the rest of my life.

I honestly never would have dreamed, five years ago, that any of this would have happened. I know now how little I even knew about love then. Love is not about savoring the happy moments that come between the moments when you're totally debased, frightened or in pain. A good relationship should never make you feel like that. Pain and fear aren't the price you pay for love, as I thought then. Love is about making each other happy, but it's not about doing whatever it takes to make the other person happy at the expense of yourself, your sanity and your dignity.

I've learned so much in five years. I've learned about what love is truly meant to be, and I've found that for myself. I've learned to be more adventurous and more confident, and I have a much greater sense of self-respect, of valuing myself and my opinions, wants and needs. I know that I never, ever have to do anything I don't want to do, and I have a supportive, loving fiancé who encourages me to remember that, and to get out and do things, and to take time for myself and with my friends -- he doesn't feel threatened if I need to do something without him.

Earlier tonight, I was thinking about my fiancé's bachelor party, and I was thinking that if he wanted to have a party full of drinking and strippers, y'know, that would be alright with me, 'cause I trust him completely. (Never mind that he's not interested in either of those things -- which is nice, too, I must say, to have someone who isn't obsessed with porn and scantily-clad chicks on TV and who doesn't drink, either.) And then, all of that sort of hit me, that five years after I thought I'd never open my heart up to anyone ever again, I've given mine over so completely, without any fear or hesitation, to someone who deserves it, someone who I can trust to always love me and care for me and stand beside me. And I cried again, five years later, but this time, they were tears of joy, celebrating how I've grown and the happiness that I've found, and marveling at what still lies in store.
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
A conversation with my honey this morning made me realize that while I covered terrible holiday songs on here, I never talked about the good ones, the ones that you hope to hear every holiday season and find yourself singing along to every time you hear them.

So, what're your top five?

Here are mine, though there are so many good ones that this list is subject to change from moment to moment:

5. "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" by Gayla Peevy: Such a cute song, and way more fun (and less annoying) than "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."
4. "Keep Christmas With You": I'm pretty sure I learned this one in school, with the sign language. I'll bet a lot of you did, too. You don't hear this one that often these days, but it's a nice warm-fuzzy sort of song.
3. "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney: This song is just so damn peppy, so happy-sounding, I can't help but bob my head when it comes on. :)
2. "12 Days of Christmas" by Straight No Chaser: Though I really like a few other interpretations of this song, too, (like the "12 Pains of Christmas" or the McKenzie Brothers version), I think this one's my favorite.
1. "Ain't No Hole in the Washtub": Alright, "Jingle Bells" it's not. But don't you have one holiday special or movie that you have to watch every year, without fail, and it's just not the holidays without it? For me, that's always been "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas."
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
So the holidays are here again. And with this time of year comes holiday music. And in that mix of carols, there are surely some that you just can't stand, the ones that make you change the channel or cover your ears every time they come on.

Here are my top five suckiest holiday songs, counting down (and let's just leave Justin Bieber out of this -- let's just acknowledge that we all know he sucks, so we don't need to include anything from his holiday album here):

5. "Jingle Bells" by the Singing Dogs: It's fricking dogs. Fricking dogs barking. Do I really have to explain why this song sucks?
4. "Christmas Shoes": What a horrible piece of glurge. Such a godawful pile of dreck. Actually, I think Patton Oswalt has a pretty good take on why this song is so bad.
3. "Dominic the Donkey" by Lou Monte: What was this guy smoking when he wrote this song? A Christmas donkey, seriously? WTF? What's wrong with the damn reindeer? They can fly, but they can't get through mountains? That's bullcrap. And to boot, this is one of those songs that jumps into your head and then stays there all day, no matter how much you hate it. Bonus suck points for that.
2. "Feliz Navidad": Another ridiculously catchy, ridiculously bad song, which is a double-whammy. I mean, come on. One, we live in America, so speak English, or possibly Latin since it's Christmas time. And two, write some more words, dammit! This whole song only consists of two lines' worth of lyrics!
1. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by the Jackson 5: Y'know, I like Michael Jackson, but whenever I hear this song (which seems to be on every retail outlet's playlist, so it's unescapable), I want to reach back in time and strangle little-kid-Michael. Shut up, kid! First of all, you don't have to keep telling us "I did, I really did!" We get it. You saw Mommy kissing Santa. We believe you, really. Now shut up. And plus, why is he so excited about this? Think about it: He just saw his mom making out with Santa, while his dad's asleep. Mommy's cheating on Daddy, and Santa's a homewrecker! Why are you so excited about that, kid?
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It's weird to be the one worried about instead of the one doing the worrying. And yet, here we were, the region blanketed in floodwaters and power outages, with the national news covering us and the Internet worrying about us. As it turned out, the downstaters, even though they got Hurricane Irene and we got Tropical Storm Ireme, got the better end of the deal, it would appear. Their damage doesn't look too bad. Ours, well, it was a mess.

I ran around Friday trying to batten down the hatches, picking up emergency nonperishables and jugs of water, filling every empty container in the house with either drinking water or regular tap water, making sure I had a flashlight with batteries, a radio with batteries, candles and a lighter, a charged phone and a charged camera battery (though I didn't think to charge the DS until Sunday morning). Saturday, I had to work, but we made sure to move all of our outdoor plants and furniture in, just in case. The storm was supposed to hit us early Sunday morning.

And hit it did. It was loud, raging winds and driving rain, so loud that it kept waking me up as I tried to get some sleep before what was bound to be a really long day. Around 8:15 a.m., we heard three really loud cracks, branches snapping off outside our window, and at that point, we gave up on sleep and jumped in the shower, so we could squeeze in one last shower before possibly losing water (and filling up the bathtub, again, just in case).

We scurried around getting showered, and then we scurried around some more making breakfast, again thinking that this might be our last hot meal for a while, let's try to cram in one last cooked breakfast. And then... we waited. And we read books. And we listened to the radio, hearing the litany of business closures and road closures and updates as the storm came through downstate, hearing about people being cut off, evacuated, stranded and rescued by helicopter in a couple of small Catskills towns.

And the storm raged outside all through the morning and into the afternoon, howling winds, driving rain. And then... it started to let up a bit. It started to pass around 3ish, and we still had power, and we didn't see any flooding outside, just a few fallen branches, though we heard that the road leading to our place was closed due to flooding.

By this point, I was getting stir-crazy. Funny, I thought a day in would be nice and relaxing, but I ended up getting cabin fever from being stuck inside all day. First, I went out on the balcony, just to be outside, even if only by a couple of steps. Then, I started agitating for a walk -- c'mon, it's only sprinkling now, let's go see the flooded road! Somehow, the plan snowballed, and we ended up not only walking up to see the flooding but also walking to Chipotle for dinner, then to Hannaford to buy groceries (amazing that they were both still open, but they were). It was a long, damp walk, and it was still windy and drizzly, but it was nice to get out of the house and get some exercise. After that, we mustered the courage to boot up the computer, just to check in and see how everyone else was going, and we saw the huge swaths of people without power on National Grid's map, including almost the whole town, except us. Lucky us.

Actually, the worst part around here wasn't Sunday, though there were a ton of power outages and closed (debris-filled or flooded) roads. No, the worst part was yesterday, Monday, when all of that water started to drain down, down into the rivers and streams, which quickly spilled over their banks and into everywhere, submerging Jumpin' Jack's in Scotia, rising over the patio at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy, filling streets and businesses and homes, and closing down roads and bridges all over, so that trying to get anywhere at all took hours of detours. On top of that, a barge broke loose on the Mohawk and threatened to wipe out the Twin Bridges and the Route 9 bridge, so both were closed for a while, until they could corral the wayward barge. That could've been an even worse disaster, if those bridges were taken out. But as it was, yesterday was a mess, a certifiable disaster, all over the region.

There was even word that a dam in Vischer Ferry might give, prompting a call encouraging people to evacuate and laying out details for where to go. The call also included a plea to stop calling Town Hall asking when the power would be on again -- they still didn't know. The town supervisor's message sounded frazzled, and I imagined that evacuees and officials alike were probably really stressed out. Those who can, do, and those who can't, bake, so I made two batches of cookies and took them over, one to Town Hall and one to the evacuation center (where, it turns out, not very many people were evacuating). I figured that if you're in a sucky situation, well, cookies make everything at least a little bit better. (In a similar vein, after two days of wall-to-wall crazy at the office, including reporters returning with tales of interviewing while standing in feet of mud and one who apparently looked for sources in a canoe, I brought in treats today. I figured we could use them, too.)

Today, at least the water's starting to recede a bit, and it looks like most people have their power back. I drove over the Mohawk on my way to work, and it was really, really high and the color of chocolate -- it made me think of Willy Wonka, of the stream that August Gloop drowned in. As for the damage, who knows. It's gonna be a difficult cleanup out there. I just hope that everything can be dried out and fixed up.
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
Whoa... I just felt my first earthquake!

The whole office shimmied, kinda like the "Crossgates shake," but side to side. Apparently, it was a 5.9 magnitude quake in Virginia, but it was felt all the way up here in Schenectady -- according to Twitter, it was even felt by some people in Toronto. Neat!

Mind you, living on the west coast, where they're huge and frequent, probably wouldn't be neat at all. But for us, it's a novelty, sorta cool, especially since right here, it was mild, strong enough to notice but not to do any damage.

Oddly enough, though, I'm hearing word of evacuations. Seriously? Shut down all business and flee, for that? In Virginia, maybe, but here, where it was just a shimmy? That's just silly.

Edit: Weird... apparently, there was a 2.2 one this morning, too, around 6:30, and centered near here. But nobody seems to know anything about that one (or have anything to say about having felt it).

Edit: And... my boyfriend's office has been sent home for the day. What bums. :-P
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"On the shoulders of the space shuttle, America will continue the dream."

With these words, the space shuttle Atlantis blasted off this morning, beginning the final NASA shuttle mission.

I watched every moment of it, glued to the NASA TV feed online. And I must say, when Atlantis lifted off, I teared up a bit, watching it streak skyward.

I think we've all gotten far too jaded by the space shuttle. After all, I've never known a time when we weren't routinely sending astronauts up into space on shuttle missions. We've hardly been paying attention to space missions anymore, except when they go horribly, disastrously wrong, like Challenger and Columbia.

But think about it. We humans, we Americans, developed a ship, a ship that we can fire into space, with people on board! And we can bring them back, and then reuse that ship! When you think about the history of the human race, and the fact that gravity is a really powerful force that keeps us all bound to the earth's surface, and the fact that humans only figured out how to fight that force at all, for any length of time, about a hundred years ago... it's pretty amazing.

It's going to be sad to see these missions end. It's sad to think that no more kids will grow up to become space shuttle astronauts. And it's sad to see this great nation have to rely on the Russians and their inferior craft (and it is inferior) to continue our work at the International Space Station, when once, we were the pioneers of space exploration, the ones who built the first spacecraft, the ones who sent the first humans to the moon.

I can only hope that within my lifetime, something even better will replace the space shuttle, some new, innovative, more advanced craft that we can use to go onward and upward to greater things.
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
Yesterday was SO AWESOME. Best birthday ever? Maybe, or at least best birthday that didn't involve people throwing me a party. :)

We started out the day stupid-early with a train down to NYC, then walked over to Rockefeller Center, which I'd never really had the opportunity to check out much. We had lunch/breakfast at 'Wichcraft, where I'd actually won a contest on Facebook, so they gave me four free sandwiches, which we split (and which were all pretty tasty -- I'll probably do a review post on FB, to pay them back for the free food). We followed that with a little dessert -- we walked by the Jacques Torres chocolate store and had to stop in for a few chocolates. We split four: chocolate-praline (yum!), ancho-chipotle (actually not hot, just complex), chai (strong ginger!) and "menage a trois" (tasted cherry-ish). Then, we went and did the Top of the Rock tour. It's too bad that it was a cloudy, misty sort of day, but the view was still pretty cool (much better than the Empire State Building's, I'm told, and no lines, either).

After seeing the sites from above, we went outside and took a few pictures of 30 Rock, and then, we turned around and spotted the Lego store, and we just couldn't resist going in. They had stands where you could make your own little Lego people, but they were crowded with little kids, so we didn't make any. But what I thought was cool is that they also had a wall of loose bricks to buy by the cup, so if you wanted, say, a ton of those little 1-brick-wide red roof pieces, or maybe just one window, or two little goblets, and a bunch of skinny white bricks, or whatever, you could get that and make your own mix.

Then, it was time for dessert-a-palooza, 'cause I couldn't resist trying to take advantage of all of the nearby and famed deliciousness, especially when it's my birthday (come on, nobody diets on their birthday). Our first stop was Bouchon, Thomas Keller's bakery, where I bought lots of really-bad-for-me goodies: some bouchons (like the world's richest brownies), some macarons and some TKOs (homemade Oreos, and wow, those were good). I had to save most of that for the train ride later, though, 'cause I had something else in mind for now: birthday cake. Birthday cupcake, actually, from Magnolia Bakery, which is most famous, I think, from either the "Lazy Sunday" video or "Sex and the City." I got a yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and I have to say, that was one REALLY good cupcake. I guess they do deserve all of their fame.

After that, we took a slow walk over to Broadway and down into Times Square, where I took lots of pictures like a tourist (but hey, I was) and stopped at the Hershey store (eh, not that impressed) before going to Discovery Times Square for "Harry Potter: The Exhibition." It was really cool to see so many props and costumes from the movies up close; the level of detail on this stuff was pretty incredible. Also, it was weird to see the outfits from the faceoff with Quirrell: Harry was so tiny compared to the grown-up he faced! And here's a fun fact: Despite the fact that everybody thinks Snape's robes are black, despite the fact that that's how they look on film, despite the fact that everybody cosplays him in black... they're purple, more of a dark, dusky violet. I never would've thought that, but I saw them up-close, and it's true.

I had to stop after the exhibition at the Cake Boss Cafe to pick up yet more goodies for later (these are for my parents, though, if they survived the trip alright), and then, we ambled over to Marseille for dinner. I had moules frites: the frites were delicious (haven't had those in a while, anyway, 'cause I've been trying to cut down), but the mussels, well, they were good, but I got mussel'ed out after a while and couldn't finish them. We ordered chocolate pot de crème for dessert, which was more like ganache with a little fresh whipped cream on top, and they brought it with a lit candle stuck in it and a quick "happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you," which was neat. :)

And then, then came the main event: My first Broadway show. That was one of my before-I-die goals, and I'm so glad the stars aligned this way, that my first show on Broadway was also my favorite musical, and that it had Daniel Radcliffe in it, too, who I like.

"How to Succeed" was PHENOMENAL. I can't say enough about how good the show was. The sets, the choreography (acrobatic and sometimes hilarious, like when Finch said "I love her, I love her!" and jumped on a couch a la Tom Cruise :) ), the lighting, the orchestra, all of that was really well-done. But more importantly, well, first of all, John Laroquette was REALLY good. He brought just the right mix of CEO with stupid little kid to the role, and I can totally see why he got a Tony nomination (hope he wins tonight!). And the women who played Rosemary (her first starring role, and I couldn't tell at all) and Smitty and Miss Jones were very talented, as was the gifted and athletic rest of the cast, including a Hedy that was played more drunk-seeming than airheaded (but still convincingly dumb).

But the highlight, of course, was Daniel Radcliffe, and let me tell you, he knocked my socks off. Sure, we know he can act; he's proved his ability to inhabit the character of Harry Potter with a range of emotions, for sure. But beyond that, he can SING! Like really sing, beautifully and projecting to the rafters! And he can DANCE! He really wowed the house with his athleticism, his ability to totally nail the complex choreography, with leapfrogs and Fosse-esque moves that really impressed. He's one talented guy, that's for sure, and I really have no idea why he didn't get a Tony nomination himself.

I only wish that they'd put out a DVD of this show, 'cause it left me wanting to watch it about eight hundred more times, it was that good. But alas, all good things must come to an end, though I did get a T-shirt and a pin for my sweater, and I will be buying the soundtrack soon. Still, it was a most amazingly awesome way to cap off a really incredible birthday. :)
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
I'm so glad I went back to campus for my 10th reunion -- and I'm going to say right now, all my Sagies, go to yours, go, it's fun, trust me, I don't care if most of your friends aren't in your class, it's still fun.

The weekend started quietly for me, with check-in and some time to kill, so I wandered around campus, first doing their letterboxing challenge, then just taking pictures, 'cause I realized that I didn't have any digital pics of the campus. Then, I went to a book discussion, which was sort of interesting and a nice way to ease into the weekend.

Later on came the McKinstry brick dedication, where I got to see our E brick for the first time. Yay, we're immortalized! :) And I ran into some fellow Angels along the way (one of whom recognized me from the back... um, wtf? My back view has definitely changed a lot since college!), and it's funny, 'cause even though I was never close with most of my class (except Jess and Laura, who didn't come :( ), I was always well-known on campus, and the popular/in-charge types in my class would always include me in Rally stuff, things like that, and that hasn't changed. They were all really nice and glad to see me, and we all sorta flocked together (Angels of a feather...) during a good part of the weekend. There was a Sagettes show (well, two songs, a few renditions of the Alma Mater and a bunch of Rally songs) after our glorified dining hall dinner (trust me, the food gets better, keep reading), and when we all went up to do Seven Daffs and got to the introductions, I got a huge cheer from one corner of the room -- my Angels were in the house. :)

At the end of the night, we all ended up going out to the Ruck, and we were all a bit taken aback to be ID'd ... oh yeah, it's a bar, even if none of us look even close to underage anymore. It was a fun time, though -- we pushed a few tables together and ordered a few dozen of half-priced (and really tasty) wings.

The second day was even better, though it was tough getting up early after the night before (even though I was only out until maybe 11:40 or so... but I had to be back by 9, so ick). I started off with a Zumba class, so now I can finally say that I've tried that. It sure kicked my ass, but y'know, it sorta had more of an aerobics feel to it than dance, very sort of "just do what I do!", very short on breaks, too, so I don't think I'd want to take Zumba classes. I'm glad I got to try it, though.

Then, I had some time to cool down and change out of my workout clothes, and then I had a chair massage, my first professional massage, actually, short though it was. It hurt a bit, but y'know, my shoulders did feel looser afterward, for a little while, anyway. Though maybe I shouldn't have gotten too relaxed, 'cause I was really hurting during the president's speech, struggling to keep my sore eyes open and pay attention, even though it was a pretty good speech. LadiEs, here's some good news: she promised that as long as she's president, we won't go co-ed.

Lunch was pretty good, a pre-plated affair in the Aggie of grilled chicken, sesame noodles and chocolate mousse. Then came the Parade of Classes, which was really cool. It was a lot of fun, and I got to help carry our class banner, and they blocked off the street for us, and there was a marching band to lead us and play us into Bush. There were even a few spectators, husbands and boyfriends as well as some random residents who heard a band and came to see the spectacle.

The alumnae meeting was interesting, especially when they announced all of the class donations. We made our goal, w00t! Also, we were touched to see that there was actually a donation from the class of '36, $300. Class of '36! They'd be, what, almost 90 years old? And they still remembered their alma mater. Wish whoever it was could've come in person, so we could've thanked them -- the earliest class with a representative there was '46.

Afterwards, I went on a tour of the Washington Park area, which was... eh, long. Parts of it were interesting, but after a while, it was more walking, another house, more walking, another house. I skipped out a bit "early" (I put that in quotes 'cause the tour ran at least a half-hour longer than it was supposed to before I left), and by this point, my feet and legs were starting to kill me from so much walking around (and the Zumba, I imagine). I ended up just sitting on the low wall outside Buchman until cocktail time.

Yes, cocktail time... there was a cocktail hour in Bush, and it was an open bar for the rest of the night for everything except liquor. It was weird to see Bush turned into a reception area, a bar and a cheese-and-crackers station and butlered hors d'oeuvres. It was a preview of things to come, though. The class dinner was in the Robison gym -- and you never would have known, 'cause they dressed it up REALLY nice, fabric curtains and chandeliers and everything. It was totally swank. And so was dinner: filet mignon and salmon with green beans, carrots and roasted potatoes, plus wine, of course. Very classy, very nice.

And then came the afterparty -- desserts and coffee in Buchman and a dance party with open bar and platters of small sweets in Bush. It was a rockin' good time (though my legs and feet are still a bit sore, days later, from all of that walking and then dancing). It amazed me how much the older alums know how to party! Especially the class of '71 -- I want to be those ladies when I grow up. :) It was so cool, though, being out on the dance floor with all of these women, Devils and Cows and Shoes and other Angels, not knowing or caring who was which, 60-somethings and 40-somethings and 20-somethings (yes, there were a few '06'es there) all partying together and having fun. I hadn't really realized it until then, but it's like gaining a whole new set of classes above and below you, just spaced a bit farther apart -- and since the 1's and 6's are always together, we'll see the same ladies in 5 years (you better believe I'll be there). It was a whole new feeling of sisterhood, and it was really awesome. :)
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
Got up a bit early to watch the royal wedding, stopping first to make some scones (it seemed appropriate) and some strong black tea (which is catching up with me now, feeling a bit groggy)... and the tape didn't record anything. Meh. Yay for MSNBC, though -- I watched it online instead.

I'm not much of a fashionista, but I was looking forward to seeing Catherine's dress. (I suppose we should call her that now, since she's got an HRH in front of her name and all.) I know they'll be making knockoffs of it as we speak, and I wondered if it would be something I'd want to wear someday. The answer on this was a no. The dress looked nice on her, and the lace was a nice way of covering up (required for a Westminster Abbey wedding) without being too prudish, but lace just isn't my thing. Also, wow, she's skinny, even skinnier than I'd noticed before, and you could totally see it in that dress. She looked great, though, just not a look I'd want to copy.

It must take a bit of getting used to, no matter how well you've mentally prepared for it, to walk into the church to "Good luck, Miss Middleton," and walk out an hour later to "Congratuations, your royal highness." In just an hour, she went from commoner to duchess, from Kate Middleton to Her Royal Highness the Princess William of Wales, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness of Carrickfergus. That's gotta take some getting used to. (Incidentally, it's good to see that William assented to taking all of those titles, since otherwise, Catherine wouldn't have any titles of her own, just "princess William of Wales.")

It was neat to see how both of them kept a commoner's touch to things, how they're royalty but also just regular young people. They left the abbey in a royal coach, but they later re-emerged with William driving his dad's Aston-Martin, balloons and milk jugs tied to the back with a plate saying "Just Wed." And they followed the ceremony with a formal reception hosted by the queen for them and all of the thousands of wedding guests, with fancy canapés and a traditional, eight-tier, white-icing-covered fruitcake, but the day ended with a Buckingham Palace bash with their friends, a chocolate cookie cake and plenty of champagne, with a hangover-curing brunch hosted by the groom's brother scheduled for the next morning. In some ways, they're just regular young people, even though they're royalty, and that's refreshing to see.

And now, they'll soon go back to their regular lives, or at least he will. She'll have to settle into being royalty, traveling to benefits and appearances and such. Interestingly, they're apparently doing a tour of Canada in a couple of months. I wonder if their stop in Montreal will overlap my days off? Road trip, anyone? :)
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
I'm having my finger cut open tomorrow morning. They're going to remove a little cyst. I'm apparently going to be awake for the whole thing. And I'm freaking out. Like, what if I feel something? What if I hear something, like a scraping noise, or the doctor saying something alarming to an assistant? I kinda wish they'd just knock me out. Heck, maybe they will. Here's hoping, even if it means throwing up tomorrow afternoon.
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
We went on a day-long double-date yesterday to the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties, and it was a pretty good time, though unfortunately, I forgot that long sleeves and an overcast day do not grant me immunity to sunburn -- got my neck and chest pretty toasted. Ah, well. It was worth it.

We spent the day with a couple of his friends who live down there, and we ate a ton of stuff -- garlic ice cream (not bad but too vanilla, could have used more garlic flavor), roasted garlic straight up (yummy), garlic cheese (cheddar with scape was a bit bitter, cheddar with roasted garlic was good, provolone with garlic was very buttery), garlic vinegar (good until I swallowed, ow my throat), garlic fudge (surprisingly good), garlic pickles (too cucumber-y, not enough spice/sugar/garlic), garlic-based dips, garlic chocolate chip cookies (not enough garlic to be noticeable) and garlic chocolate (like a Crunch bar, then what a kick when the chocolate's gone). We also had lunch at a Puerto Rican booth, a new experience since neither of us had had Puerto Rican food before; we split an alcapurria (meat filling inside a mashed-starch coating and deep fried) and an empanada. I'd eat either of those again.

Sadly, I didn't bring anything home except a small garlic pin. I was planning on hauling back pounds of cheese and jars of pickles and maybe a few pounds of fudge, but eh, none of it was really stuff I'd want to stockpile. Still, it was a good time, even if I couldn't get the taste of garlic out of my mouth for the rest of the day. :)
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
It's been a year of facing my fears, or trying to, and I partly-faced another one yesterday, and it's a doozy.

I bought tickets to go down to NYC and go to ComicCon.

For most people, this is not such a big deal. But for me... I've hardly ever been to NYC before (too full of crime, too hard to get around -- the few times I've been were always with someone to guide me), and I've never bought train tickets, either. Also, I've never been to a con, so that'll be something. I would like to cosplay at a con someday, but that's pushing it a bit far for my first one, I think -- maybe the next time around. :)

And now I'm all sorts of eager for October to come, even though there's plenty to do between now and then (and besides, who wants to get closer to snow?).
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
"Home is where the heart is." — Pliny the Elder

The more time goes by, the more I believe this to be true. After all, remember being in college, living on campus, and though you missed your parents' house at first, eventually, your mom would start yelling at you when you said you were eager to get back "home" after a weekend or a college break? More of your stuff might have been at your parents' house, but your heart, your happy times, the place you felt close to, that was on campus.

I feel like that more and more these days. It almost feels weird to call my parents' house "home" anymore. Sure, that's where most of my stuff is. And it's where I sleep during the work week. And it's where the cat is. But my heart doesn't feel like it's there anymore -- sometimes, it feels more like a motel or like a storage unit, a storage unit with a bed and a cat and my parents in it.

More often, I refer to my other home as home, the place I stay on weekends, the place where I'm most happy, where my heart is. It's not my mailing address, not where I pay rent, but it seems like home is more about feelings, sometimes, than legalities and formalities.
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
March has been such a busy month that it's just flown right by. But it's also been a month in which I feel really on top of things, which is always a good feeling -- I had a ton of stuff on the to-do list, and for the most part, it's all either gotten done or is getting done.

I reregistered the car and changed the insurance. I got the car inspected, too, so I'm all legal for another year. I went to the dentist. I did a bunch of tidying up around the house and solved a pesky problem with the dishwasher. I bought a pant-ton of stuff for the baby shower and got the invites mostly done, and I settled on a punch recipe. I sold some perfumes and have a check coming in the mail for that. I baked a bit, as I usually do (what to make next week, now?). And yesterday, I bought a ton of stuff to springify the place, including gardening supplies, and this morning, I planted flower boxes. They'll probably die, 'cause I'm no gardener, but hey, I tried. And I have some potting soil left over, so I may plant something else next week, if I can decide what.

It's nice to accomplish things, nice to have that satisfying feeling of "well, THAT's done." Too bad this whole year is just so busy -- Easter's coming soon, and Jenn and Dan's party, and the baby shower, and then our birthdays (and maybe some sort of mini-vacation?). Before you know it, it'll be July already. Ah, well. You can't do anything about the passage of time, I suppose, except to try to make the most of the time you have. I certainly feel like I've been doing that lately.
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
It's funny how the green of spring grass and the green of shamrocks are always intertwined in my mind -- it's not truly springtime until St. Patrick's Day, until I've eaten some Irish food and listened to a bit of Irish music. I've had Dropkick Murphys in my car lately, and today, we went to the Irish Times, which I'd never been to before, for breakfast.

I hate to say this, but much as I like the Parting Glass, the Irish Times wins -- they have a much more authentic menu of good Irish food, not just burgers and sweet potato fries plus a Reuben and a boiled dinner. I started with the potato leek soup, which was delicious, and we split an order of "Irish spring rolls" -- I know, not exactly authentic, but they were delicious, filled with corned beef and cabbage (which was actually mild and blended well with the other flavors) and a bit of Swiss cheese. Then, I had a traditional Irish breakfast, which I've never seen on a menu around here anywhere, and they serve it all day: two eggs, plus rasher bacon, real Irish bangers (sausages), baked beans (done up in a ketchupy-tasting preparation), white and black puddings (I had them skip the black pudding, but the white pudding was surprisingly delicious) and soda bread (REAL, authentic soda bread, dense and made with wheat flour, not sweet or cakey at all). The rest of the menu looked really tempting, too, so I'll definitely have to go back -- they have bangers and mash, Celtic curry boxty and shepherd's pie, among other intriguing options. Plus, I hear that they have hard cider on tap, which I still have yet to try.

So now, my stomach's full of good Irish food, and I feel like spring has really arrived. :)
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
Y'know, I think Johnny Weir is the smartest Olympian out there.

I mean, it's all well and good for all of these athletes to work so hard to get a gold medal -- but what happens afterward? Win or lose, your Olympic run has to end eventually. Even if you go again in four years, eventually, you'll have to stop. And then what?

If you want to stay in your field, stick with your sport, well, there are only so many slots available for coaches and commentators.

A small handful of Olympians, if they're good with their money, won't need to worry about what to do later -- they're the ones with the big endorsement deals. Michael Phelps should be set for life, if he doesn't squander his millions. Shaun White should be alright, too. And Lindsey Vonn, well, between her overcoming-the-odds story in these games and the fact that she's young and blonde and perky, she'll probably do fine with endorsements, too. But this is only a small number of the total number of people on Team USA.

There are opportunities out there, pro circuits, but mostly just the hardcore fans of your sport will pay attention to that stuff. There's not a ton of money to be made. But in ice skating, there are actually a few places where, if you're famous and enough regular folks care about you, you might just do alright for yourself -- say, those Stars on Ice tours.

Now, Evan Lysacek is a talented guy, for sure, and he won gold, and good for him. But is anyone gonna remember his name in six months? Nah, not many, not until four years from now, when we pay attention to figure skating again for a while. He's just another technically brilliant man going out there and skating to some classical piece we've probably never heard.

But Johnny Weir? He's still an Olympic-caliber skater, but he's also got personality. He goes out there and skates well, and he does it in over-the-top costumes to Lady Gaga. He might actually be remembered. He may not be taking home gold, but he's started to cement a post-Olympic future, one where people will buy tickets to go see him perform on a pro tour 'cause he's an interesting character who puts on a show that'll keep your attention. And that makes him savvier than most on our Olympic team.

Snow job

Feb. 24th, 2010 01:01 pm
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
This bothers me every single time it snows: Why do the plow crews largely give up and go home around 9-10 p.m.?

I know they're probably trying to save money on overtime. I know that there are fewer cars on the road later at night. But fewer doesn't equal none, and we all pay taxes, too. For that matter, if all of my tax money could only be spent on one thing, it would be snowplowing, making sure that the roads are clear and safe at all times.

Basically, by being lazy about plowing late at night, these crews are saying that the lives of day workers are more important than those of night workers. That's bullcrap. My life has no less value than a day-side worker's. And I pay taxes, too. Shouldn't I be entitled to safe roads just as much as a day person?
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
2010's been off to a sorta busy start, hasn't it? And March looks to be totally batshit, and I already have stuff planned in April, and May, and, and... eep. No wonder time flies, huh?

Life's going pretty well overall. Last weekend was Valentine's Day, which was nice. It was also Chinese New Year, so we went out for Chinese food (yum!). Other than that, it was a pretty quiet day, but I have no complaints.

Shannon and I went to Rally Night last night. The Devils won, yay! RE, DRE, DR, EDRE, DR, EDRE-DRED-RED! Also, they changed the color of the Angels' sweaters, which was a bit disconcerting, 'cause now they won't match the rest of us from now on. Even the blazers, I think, are about the same shade of blue as my sweater is. But they had to switch manufacturers, apparently, and the new people couldn't do the usual color, for some reason. So this year's freshmen have sweaters that are a much darker color, more like a royal blue. It's still sorta bright, though -- it actually goes kinda nicely with the Cows' purple.

Other than that, not a whole lot going on, except baking, lots of baking. I've made four brownie recipes in the past two weeks, and I still haven't found one that's a keeper. They're all so fudgy, so paste-y in the mouth, except one that was a tad cakier than ideal. Everyone I know is gonna be totally brownie'd out by the time I hit on the right formula.
karnerblue: Monterey sea lion (Default)
There's a remake of "We Are the World" out now, and, well, who the hell are these people? A lot of the power of the original was that they got a whole bunch of huge stars in a room together for this one song. But seriously, who the hell are the people in this video?

I decided to make a game of it. So here we go, in order, spot the "celebrities" (Wanna play along? Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Glny4jSciVI):

1. Some little boy.
2. Two black chicks. The one on the right might be Jenifer Hudson, that "Idol" chick, but I don't watch "Idol" so I can't be sure.
3. Is that Melissa Etheridge? It sure sounds like her, but the hair's funky.
4. A dead-eyed Muppet. I'm pretty sure this is Josh Groban, actually. But holy crap, I never noticed how creepy his eyes are.
5. Tony Bennett? Wtf? But hey, at least he's a legitimate celebrity people know, the first real star in this damn thing.
6. Uh... one of those black chicks who went to prison. Lil Kim, maybe, I think?
7. Michael Jackson, spliced in from the old video. This is a little creepy, too.
8. ... and Janet Jackson, okay, another legitimate (and alive) star.
9. Barbra Streisand?? Again, an odd choice, but at least she's an actual star. This makes three legitimate stars so far who are actually alive. (This is also the part of the video where I wonder why some people can't use headphones correctly. What, afraid to mess up your hair or something?)
10. Some little girl. Maybe they should've put her with the random little boy who started this thing.
11. There are five people in this shot, but only one of them sings and that one not for long. None of these five people are recognizable.
12. Jamie Foxx? How do we count him as a legitimate singing star? Uh, we don't. And there's some dude next to him, and I don't know who he is, either.
13. Pretty sure this is Wyclef. Also pretty sure he's butchering the shit out of the melody. Dude, shut up. (Also, he's not exactly a huge star, either, but I guess since he's Haitian, it's alright.)
14. The dude from Maroon 5. (At least I recognized who he was, but Bruce Springsteen he's not.)
15. Pink, I think? I'm used to seeing her with colored hair, but I'm pretty sure that's Pink.
16. Some black dude.
17. A repeat of Michael Jackson footage, then... pretty sure from the ridiculously large sunglasses this is Kanye West. (He's no Bruce Springsteen either.)
18. Celine Dion. Weird to see her after all of these random other people, but alright, she counts as a legitimate star (not one I LIKE, but hey). And Lionel Richie beside her, I think. Surely, he counts.
19. Brief shot of some blonde chick with a guitar.
20. Some dark-haired chick in unreasonably large shades, so even if I DID know her, I certainly can't tell behind those stupid sunglasses.
21. Hey, it's Quincy Jones!
22. Oh, a crowd shot, let's see.... Celine Dion, a bunch of black chicks I don't know, some blonde...
23. ... a brief solo of some dark-haired chick I don't know...
24. ... back to a crowd of nobodies, and Tony Bennett, and.... I feel like I should know that black chick in the front. Gladys Knight? Whoever she is, I'll count her as a star, 'cause I know she's one of those older chicks who earned their fame decades ago (and now we've started to forget her, apparently).
25. Goddamn, who ARE these people? Another crowd shot, and other than Celine Dion again, and dead-eyed Muppet Groban in the back, they're all total strangers. Not a single Kenny Rogers or Bono or Cyndi Lauper in the bunch. (OK, nobody cares about Lauper now -- but she was HUGE back then.)
26. A different young kid than the first random young kid, but still nobody super-famous.
27. Is that Randy Jackson in the front? Since when is he a singer? I thought he was just a label guy and "Idol" judge.
28. That dark-haired chick from before again, and again, no clue who she is.
29. Pan the crowd of random nobodies again...
30. ... and now, some black chick and some bald white dude. Moby? Nah, doesn't look quite like Moby.
31. Hey, wait a minute, was that Neil Young? *rewinds* Maybe? And some other white-haired white dude, and I'm not sure who he is, either. (Just so you don't think it's only the young people I don't recognize...)
32. More random black chicks.
33. Sweet jesus... I think that's Lil Wayne, and it's nice to see that he's so damned untalented that he wouldn't even do a CHARITY song without the damned Auto-Tune. What a no-talent douchebag.
34. Don Henley? Is that Don Henley in the back? I think he was in the original. Or it's Jeff Bridges, which would make no damn sense. Unless he's the token white dude actor who's not really a singer. (See also: Dan Aykroyd.)
35. Two black chicks I don't know.
36. Some black dude I also don't know.
37. Again with the blonde chick who apparently can't sing, but she can make token gestures with a guitar.
38. Chick with the giant ugly shades again. Is that Fergie? Maybe.
39. Some other asshole with Auto-Tune.
40. Oh, SONUVABITCH, Jamie Foxx! You are NOT Ray Charles! Just 'cause Ray Charles is dead and he was in the original does NOT mean you have to trot out that same damn impression again! Give it a rest!
41. Oh, shit. They've decided to throw in a rap. There was no rap section in the original. Also, I have no damn clue who any of these people are.
42. Wait, I think that one guy on the end is will.i.am. Okay, there's one person in this whole damn section who's recognizable, and he's pretty much just a member of a band, not an actual stand-alone star.
43. Hey wait, I take that back. I think that's Snoop Dogg in the middle.
44. Wyclef, shut the hell up, you suck! Tremolo is NOT made for people like you! It's made for female opera singers! You, on the other hand, sound like someone's drowning a cat or something.
45. All the random people... who the hell are you people, and where are the real celebrities?